Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lightening Your Load - Check it out at the Right!


As you'll see on the right side of the page, I've added a new scroll feature called "Ways to Lighten Your Load with Lupus." Here, I've listed a few of the ways that I've found to make my life with a chronic illness just a little bit easier. It doesn't always take much - in fact, just purchasing a simple letter opener one year eliminated the agony I used to experience each time I tried to get my swollen, arthritic fingers underneath the envelope flaps of the letters that came in the daily mail. I can't tell you how happy I was when that opener arrived in my stocking one year (from Santa Johnny.) It made all the difference - as did the other things on my list.

Can you think of any other ways to save your joints? Let me know and I'll add them to the scroll. And keep checking back for new ways to save a little time, a lot of energy, and maybe even a little suffering.

Here's a highlight from my list as it "scrolls" today:

Order groceries online - I'm telling you - this changed my life. I used to get downright ill when I had to go to the grocery store to fill up on weekly groceries. The combination of walking around, pushing the cart, grabbing and pulling things down from the shelves was enough to make me want (and need) to sleep for hours immediately upon returning home. Forget about putting the groceries away. I was absolutely spent, and usually in a lot of pain after the ordeal. I looked into the delivery option, and while there is a nominal fee for delivery (I pay about $6) , the service is worth every penny! You can order your groceries online, in the wee hours of the night, in your pajamas if you want to, specify when they should be delivered, and then watch as some nice delivery person hauls in every last one of those heavy, awkward bags right into your kitchen. It is the most convenient service for someone whose body is aching. I highly recommend it. A regional (albeit expanding) service I have come to love: Peapod

To find a grocery delivery service in your area, check out this site, which lists over 10 places nationwide for grocery delivery.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I've Got Mail


I went to open the mail yesterday, and there was a letter from my perinatal doctor's office. I figured it was a bill for one of the many outstanding balances (small, may they be) that my insurance company won't cover, but much to my surprise, it was a prescription refill for one of my medications that will be running out soon. How thoughtful! How considerate! How convenient!

If only every doctor's office was willing to monitor the expiration on my prescriptions. While I hadn't yet noticed that I'm almost out of that particular drug (I have been focused on other things lately - like this big alien growing in my tummy), I do have another sonogram scheduled before I run out. I'd like to claim that I would have realized my need for renewal before the appointment, made a note to myself to ask about renewing it, and then remembered to ask during the actual visit - but that's a lot of contingencies.

In reality, I probably would have forgotten. Then, I would have been forced to call in after my appointment, talked to the receptionist who would then relay my request to the doctor. Then I'd have to ask them to fax the prescription to my pharmacy, and then I'd have to follow up with the pharmacy to make sure they received it. And if they were like some of my other doctor's offices - there would have been a $25 fee for asking for a prescription outside of an appointment.

But I don't have to do any of that - because it arrived in the mail yesterday. Thank you, Perinatal Associates of Northern Virginia, for staying on top of my pregnancy. You made my day!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Doing Something About It!

Nicole Paxson was diagnosed with Lupus at the young age of twelve, struggling for years to cope with the symptoms of the disease. She suffered through bouts of Chemotherapy, sun sensitivities, and blood disorders, in addition to the red "butterfly rash" on her face and body.

After failing to find an appropriate beauty product on the market that could sufficiently mask the dreaded Lupus rash and provide adequate protection from the sun, she took it upon herself to come up with a line of makeup that would do the job. After spending almost three years working with lab experts to perfect her product, she's developed something that she knows firsthand will help cover up unsightly (yet unpreventable) skin conditions. She even donates a portion of the proceeds to Lupus and skin disorder research.

Kudos to Nicole for taking matters into her own hands - check out her website where you can read more about her story and her products. For even more on Nicole, click here!

Friday, July 25, 2008

This nose doesn't know...


When I was eight years old, doctors confirmed what I had known for a few years at that point - that I have absolutely no sense of smell. That's right, this schnoz of mine is a big ole' dud, and I underwent extensive medical testing to prove it. Sure, I can still breathe through it, catch colds, and sneeze, but the olfactory nerves are deader than ever.

The official name for a lack of smell is anosmia, which makes me an official anosmiac. Researchers actually differentiate between someone who has lost their sense of smell (due to trauma or disease) and someone like me, who seems to have been born without it. I feel kind of lucky to be in this second category - while I can't smell a batch of freshly baked cookies or the wonderful aroma of a big bouquet of flowers, I don't have any idea what I'm missing. It doesn't really faze me anymore, and when I see people rearing back in disgust from a bad whiff of whatever, I figure I don't have it so bad.

Only one time in my life have I felt held back by my lack of sense, and that was when doctors told me that my childhood plans of becoming the world's greatest veterinarian would probably not come to fruition. Ever since I was a wee one, I had planned on becoming a vet - I loved animals, didn't mind the ick and gore of the medical bit, and even envisioned myself moving from the small town of Greencastle, Indiana to the big city (maybe even Indianapolis!) in order to save the big-time city pets of the world.

As it was explained to me, because our furry little friends can't tell us exactly what's wrong, a vet must heavily rely on indicators such as smell to determine what it is that is ailing Fido or Fifi. I have no idea if I would get the same kind of answer today, but at the time, the doctors did a sufficient job of convincing me that I needed to find another career choice. I was pretty bummed at the time (as upset as an eight-year old can get about a change in careers), but I accepted my fate and decided that this change would give me the opportunity to find another more equally fulfilling career that I was truly meant to pursue.

Fast forward more than 20 years. Diagnosed with Lupus, I was faced with the challenge of mentally adjusting and physically adapting to the limitations of the disease, which, for me, necessitated another shift (make that downshift) in career. As conflicted as I was about making the decision to slow down, stop working, and start taking care of myself, I was reminded of that eight-year old years ago. She certainly made the most of the opportunity to reinvent herself into something different then; wasn't I capable of rising to the challenge again?

Today, I'm able to embrace the idea of continually charting a new course for myself. It's fun to have tried my hand at this writing thing over the past year or two, and even more enjoyable now that I'm blogging on regular basis. Six months ago, I swore that I'd never take up that "blog" thing - it just wasn't my deal. But here I am, blogging my little heart out, and enjoying every minute of it.

There I go, reinventing myself again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

That little ole' thing called Control

I thought it might be time for another excerpt from my book, Despite Lupus. This one comes from the second chapter called "Looking Within", from the section titled "Control." The chapter title is the same as the title of a beautiful piece of artwork currently hanging in our home. It was a gift to my husband and me from a very talented artist who is a longtime friend (and former piano teacher) of my husband's. When she painted (and titled) the piece of artwork, she had just finished her first round of kidney dialysis. Pictured at the left, you can see for yourself just how talented she is!

Chapter Overview: Making the choice to live well may be difficult, so you must look within yourself to find out how to make your strengths work to your advantage.

******

During the course of my first two and a half years with Lupus, I made more than a dozen trips to the hospital for various out-patient surgeries, emergency room visits, and invasive procedures and tests. Never once had I been held overnight, but even still, I considered myself pretty comfortable with the whole hospital routine in general. At the end of this period, I became very ill, and my rheumatologist thought it best to admit me to the hospital, due to the possibility of internal bleeding and other alarming symptoms for which he could find no explanation. Although he told me that I was being admitted, he didn’t mention the concept of being held overnight. Therefore, my expectations were the same as always: to be seen, evaluated, and released over the course of the same day.

When my doctor told me later that evening over the phone, that no, I would in fact be staying overnight, I was in disbelief. As I hung up the phone in my hospital room, I burst out into tears. I knew I was sick, and I wanted answers, but this overnight business wasn’t part of my plan. I hadn’t expected nor had I chosen to stay overnight, and yet there I was, forced into a situation over which I had no control. I felt duped, even trapped, not by my doctor, but by the disease itself. Lupus had finally ascertained control of the situation, and I hadn’t prepared for that to happen. I’d always been able to rise beyond her wrath and regain command of the situation, even if in my own twisted, optimistic mind. But not this time. I probably should have been more nervous about was wrong with my body (since I ended up being hospitalized for seven days), but the thing I remember the most about that night was the utter despair I felt when I saw my deliberate, purposeful, well-planned life falling apart before my eyes.

Never before had I felt such vulnerability or helplessness. The tears that came throughout that evening were filled with pain, resentment, and disappointment that I didn’t even know I had. The feeling of failure was overwhelming, as if I could feel the last strand of control slipping from my fingers into the hands of the disease. I was powerless, and it was the most terrible, disparaging feeling I’d ever experienced. My life had become utterly unmanageable, and I could no longer separate my life from my disease. They had become one in the same, no longer two separate compartments of my mind. Lupus was out of control, and so was I. So it was there, amongst the tears, the desperation, and the solitude, that I decided that my life with Lupus was going to change. Truth was, it already had; I was just catching on to the fact.

Loosening the Reigns

Understandably, we are resistant and reluctant to change, especially when we’re not the ones initiating it. No one enjoys relinquishing power or having their life’s agenda rewritten without their consent, including you and me. Having and maintaining control over our lives gives us confidence, stability, and peace of mind. We feel good when we assert ourselves, content and settled when life follows the path we intend. But when life is forced upon us, without our consent or expectation, as our chronic illness has been, we panic. We rush to defend ourselves against the intrusion, fighting to preserve the comfort and control we’ve always known. Not only are we seizing the past, we’re grasping at the future. We believe our plan is the only one that will lead us to our desired destination, and anything else is a ruse. If we don’t push, kick and scream against the unexpected tangents of life, life itself is liable to pass us by completely.

Like a kid who’s exhausted but refuses to go to bed, we convince ourselves that everything fun, exciting and worthwhile will happen if we let someone or something tell us what to do. If we yield, our chance to live life to the fullest will be lost. But step back for a moment and ask yourself where your controlling, stubborn behavior has led you thus far. To a life worth living,or to a life of never-ending struggle, illness, and loss?

The harder I push, the sicker I get
The sicker I get, the less I resemble myself
The less I resemble myself, the harder I push to try and regain some semblance of who I used to be.

Thinking you can beat this debilitating disease without compromising one iota of your life is what perpetuates the cycle, but two things can end it: your body giving out or you giving up control. Unfortunately, the former can and will happen, although we don’t like to admit that it’s possible. We think we’re invincible, but in fact, the body can only tolerate so much suffering. If pushed too far for too long, our bodily functions will slowly, but assuredly begin to fail. It’s only a matter of time. However, this result never has to be considered, if you’re able to relinquish the control you’ve been holding onto so desperately. In doing so, you are instantly relieved of the burden to force order, method and purpose into your life. It releases you from your futile attempts to possess a power that, perhaps, isn’t yours for the taking. It prevents you from killing yourself trying to keep to a path that isn’t necessarily set in stone. Where you’ve been merely struggling to survive, you can, at once, begin to thrive.

“Thrive”: Make steady progress; be at a high point; grow strong and healthy.[1]

[1] thrive. (n.d.). Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. Retrieved September 22, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/thrive

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Choose your fish wisely

Check out the latest on tilapia, the fish we all love to eat. (Well, some of us do.) For those with Lupus, it might not be the best option. Read on to find out more!

Newswise — Farm-raised tilapia, one of the most highly consumed fish in America, has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and, perhaps worse, very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, according to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The researchers say the combination could be a potentially dangerous food source for some patients with heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other allergic and auto-immune diseases that are particularly vulnerable to an “exaggerated inflammatory response.” Inflammation is known to cause damage to blood vessels, the heart, lung and joint tissues, skin, and the digestive tract.

“In the United States, tilapia has shown the biggest gains in popularity among seafood, and this trend is expected to continue as consumption is projected to increase from 1.5 million tons in 2003 to 2.5 million tons by 2010,” write the Wake Forest researchers in an article published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

They say their research revealed that farm-raised tilapia, as well as farmed catfish, “have several fatty acid characteristics that would generally be considered by the scientific community as detrimental.” Tilapia has higher levels of potentially detrimental long-chain omega-6 fatty acids than 80-percent-lean hamburger, doughnuts and even pork bacon, the article says.

“For individuals who are eating fish as a method to control inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, it is clear from these numbers that tilapia is not a good choice,” the article says. “All other nutritional content aside, the inflammatory potential of hamburger and pork bacon is lower
than the average serving of farmed tilapia.”

What's the Mayo Clinic's take on this, though?
Dietitians from the world renowned Mayo Clinic said Americans should not stop eating tilapia, despite media reports of a new study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that question the species’ health benefits.

The clinic’s online column, Nutrition Wise, said the fact that a new study released in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows tilapia has more omega-6s than omega-3s, was no reason to
stop eating the popular fish.

The dietitians said they are “going to continue to eat fish — at least twice weekly…including tilapia and catfish along with others especially high in the good fats such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.”

“This is all part of a reaction to sound-bite-science that has confused consumers and possibly scared some away from an inherently healthy food,” said Jennifer Wilmes, a registered dietitian with the National Fisheries Institute. “Is there an on going debate in the scientific community about omega-3 to omega-6 ratios? Yes. Does that mean anyone should suggest ground beef, bacon, and doughnuts are equal to or healthier tha
n tilapia? No. That’s irresponsible.”

Darn. I could have definitely made a case for those doughnuts. So what fish should you be eating? According to Arthritis Today, Atlantic salmon, Sockeye salmon, Lake trout, and canned Tuna are all good options. Bottom line - Keep eating fish, just choose wisely!

(Curious what Sockeye salmon looks like?
This guy seems eager to show us. What a catch!)

For the complete story on tilapia, check out the Newswise Medical News link. And for more information on how eating fish can help reduce inflammation, check out the Arthritis Today article.

Friday, July 18, 2008

This little piggy went away


Shortly after I started experiencing joint pain and swelling in my hands due to Lupus (which was practically right away), I came up with the phrase "piggy" to describe any digit that was swollen, tender, or aching. My family came to rely on my nomenclature - asking frequently if there were any piggies in the house or some other endearing phrase to find out how I was feeling on a daily basis. While I haven't had any sign of a piggy in over a year, I had one last night. My left pointer finger was the culprit this time, and while I racked my brain for a reason how I might have strained, bumped, or bruised it, I knew full well what the cause was.

I've been running a mile a minute lately - trying to wrap up a few projects around the house, getting ready for my parents to visit this weekend, and doing my best to manage the anxiety that's beginning to set in due to Bun's pending arrival. I can hardly contain the nervous, excitable energy I have, but I need to start doing a better job of it. I've been remiss in not getting a full 9-10 hours of sleep at night (because I'm too busy "doing"), and I've shaved off 15-30 minutes from my nap for the past couple of days, just because I feel like I don't need it. While my mind feels like it might not, my body (and in particular my "piggies") are saying yes we do!

Another cause of my anxiousness might have been the recent computer problem I experienced: my hard drive crashed on my laptop last week, and while I have earlier versions of my completed book backed up, I didn't have a copy of Chapters 7 and 8 in their finished form. I know, I know. You don't have to tell me now how crazy I've been for not backing up. But thankfully, the genius of the computer guy I use came through, and he was able to recover almost all of the data - except for Chapter 1. I consider myself lucky, because the first chapter was saved and backed up ages ago.

I'm also thankful that when I woke up this morning, my piggy was gone. Let's hope that I've learned my lesson on all accounts: slow down, back up, and rest. Easier said than done!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Lupus PSA

Check out this Lupus PSA, part of a new series from the Lupus Foundation of America. This one features Sarah Chalke, who plays Dr. Elliott Reid on TV's Scrubs. You may be wondering what her connection to lupus is. Randall Winston, a producer for Scrubs, and an LFA Board member, has a sister with lupus.

Here you go!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zlPmCYIAfg

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Drinking like it's my Job


So the results of my 2nd 24-U Test are in: The doctor says I have to drink more water. I don't really see how that's possible, as I typically guzzle about 4-16oz water bottles a day, plus 2-3 glasses of tap water, in addition to a glass of juice in the morning and a glass of milk later in the day. I tell you - Baby Bun is going to be swimming in there. Oh wait...Bun already is.

I know exactly what's going to happen with this increase in hydration, though. My bladder is going to start infringing on Bun's territory, and Bun isn't going to like it. There will be kicking, punching, pushing and shoving. Bun's already demonstrated that no one pushes him (or her) around, and I'm sure that my organs are no exception.

Think you're drinking enough water? Read on to find out why you should make sure you are. As promised, below are some highlights from a recent article from the summer issue of Lupus Now.

5 Reasons why people with lupus could be more susceptible to the damaging effects of dehydration:

1) Dehydration can worsen kidney function, a common problem for many people with SLE

2) Some people with lupus have autonomic nerve involvement resulting in hypertension, meaning that their blood pressure drops when they simply stand up. Dehydration could definitely lead to complications for them.

3) Being dehydrated may increase fatigue.

4) Being dehydrated may have a negative impact on the body's ability to clear medication from the system. And aren't we all on enough of that!

5) Prolonged dehydration can increase the heart rate, stressing the body in such a way that could increase the chances for or the effects of a flare.

Lupus Now, Summer 2008, Susan Manzi, M.D., M.P.H.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dinner Date...with a Twist

So my husband of almost eight years asked me out on a date last Friday. While going out on a date isn't completely unheard of for us, since we don't yet have kids, this seemed to be a special occasion, as he had the specific restaurant picked out and everything. (Note to those who are saying, "Oh you just wait until Baby Bun comes...you'll never go out again." Well, that may be true, but at present, we have complete freedom to dine out, catch a flick, or attend a social function whenever we feel like it. I know this will all change - but let us enjoy it while we have the opportunity. We have three very, very, short months left.)

So this date turned out to be a real whopper. It was dinner and...how do I say this...a 24-hour urine jug retrieval. That's right, the nurse from my perinatal doctor's office called on Friday mid-day (during my nap, in fact) and told Johnny that I needed to repeat my 24-hour urine test from earlier in the week due to "low production." First things first - how can a pregnant lady have low pee pee levels, I'd like to know! I feel like I'm always running to "powder my nose", and yet apparently, when I performed the test this past Monday, I didn't "powder" enough. The nurse was going to leave one of those glorious orange urine jugs (could they make it any more conspicuous?) at the admissions desk at the hospital where I go for my sonograms so that I could pick it up on Saturday. She said I needed to do the test on Sunday and then bring in my oh-so-fresh sample first thing on Monday morning. Johnny thought instead of me running over on Saturday morning to pick up the jug, we should make a "date" out of it and grab dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants by the hospital on Friday night. He's always thinking, that Johnny. Am I a lucky gal or what?

Now for those of you who aren't familiar with a 24-hour urine test - it's pretty self-explanatory. You're issued a huge, bright orange jug from your doctor (which seems to have grown even larger and brighter over the 7 years I've been doing these tests), you take it home, and every time you have to go during a 24 hour period, you tinkle into the jug. If you go to work, you have to take it to work. If you go out for the evening, you have to take it with it. It's quite a trip toting around such a jug...but one of my girlfriends from Lupus group taught me to just cinch it up (tightly, of course) in a cute backpack and carry it around like it's just another bag of "stuff". As long as I don't jostle it around, no one ever knows the difference!
Oh, the things we do for Lupus (and pregnancy!)

One small note - collecting one's urine into the jug is not very "big belly friendly", but the doctors have always included a handy-dandy, bedpan-like thing to assist in collecting your samples. For years, I swore I'd never use one of those things - but then, I was always agile enough to collect my own samples, thank you very much. Alas, I also used to be able to see my knees.

Ironically, my post today was going to be about the importance of staying hydrated, based upon some helpful hints I ran across in the latest issue of the Lupus Now magazine. I'll have to touch on that tomorrow, though. Right now, you'll have to excuse me. I need to go powder my nose.
*One additional note - The jug pictured above is one I found from a medical site online. Although it looks exactly like mine, it did not come from my own personal photo files. I know you're relieved.

Friday, July 11, 2008

When you have a chance, check out Wellsphere, a new online social community geared toward health and wellness, chock full of resources, discussions and activities related to food, fitness, and medical issues. In the link below, you'll see that Despite Lupus is featured as one of the preferred Lupus blogs to check out (thank you very much!), but don't stop there. Check out the entire site for all of the best tips on how to stay well.



I've been told that coming soon, there will be a section on the site dedicated solely to Lupus, so be sure to keep checking back. Until then, the Healing and Recovery section under "Communities" seems to be a good choice.
Here's a snippet from the Wellsphere bio - telling you who they are and what they're all about:

Wellsphere builds online healthy living communities that help people ‘Get active, Eat better and Unwind’. Wellsphere’s groundbreaking platform works by connecting each member with local health and wellness resources, classes and activities that match their unique interests and goals, and with the personalized advice and social support they need to sustain healthy habits. The company hosts a public website for consumers at http://www.wellsphere.com and creates proprietary communities (such as http://stanford.wellsphere.com/) for large organizations seeking to improve the health and well being of their members and reduce their healthcare costs. Wellsphere is headquartered in San Mateo, California.

Founders Ron Gutman and Dave Kashen started the company based on a vision for helping to solve the country’s health crisis and a passion for helping people improve their well-being. From the obesity epidemic to the rise of inactivity to the high levels of stress found across America, our country is not exactly in good shape. Most of us know at least a few things we could do to improve our well-being, but haven’t quite gotten around to doing them yet. Both Ron and Dave know from personal experience the incredible impact that becoming more active and eating better can have on people’s lives (yea, they’re still working on the relaxation part, but 2 out of 3 is a good start). Turns out making changes is HARD. So, they gathered a group of some of the brightest minds across Stanford’s graduate schools and asked one simple question: “How do we help people improve their own lives?”
Check out the site and discover the answer!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank goodness Baby Bun has put on some weight!


Because Momma has, too!

We had another 2-week appointment on Tuesday, and all went well in Bunland. The amniotic fluid is looking good, the PR interval (heart monitoring) looks great, and Bun is measuring and weighing in at the 48th percentile, which is just right. Bun weighs approximately 1 pound 12 ounces, and has a head that measures 23 cm (approximately 9 inches.) AND from the sonogram measurements, it looks as though Bun has Johnny's legs. How exciting!

Here are some details on the PR interval, which is the way my doctors are able to check for congenital heart block in Bun (caused by the SSA Lupus antibody I carry.)

P R Interval: The time elapsing between the beginning of the P wave and the beginning of the QRS complex in an electrocardiogram; it corresponds to the atriocarotid interval of the venous pulse.

And how do you interpret an electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG)?

The first tiny spike is called the P wave, which represents the contraction of the upper chambers (atria) of the heart.

Next, there is a short, flat pause called the PR interval, which is the space between the P wave and the R wave. The PR interval represents the time between when the electrical signal causes the atria to contract and when that signal causes the ventricles to contract. Normal values lie between 0.12 and 0.20 seconds. First degree atrioventricular block is diagnosed if the PR interval is greater than 0.20 seconds. Because Bun's PR intervals are normal and there is no lapse detected, it is determined that Bun's heart is doing A-okay.

Continuing on in the electrocardiogram interpretation, next, there may be a small dip called the Q wave (it may not be present) followed by a tall spike called the R wave and another small dip called the S wave. Together, the Q, R, and S waves (called the QRS complex) represent the activation of your left and right ventricles. The pattern of the QRS complex depends on the location of the electrode recording it.

Last is the T wave, which represents the resetting, or repolarization, of the electrical cells in the
ventricles. By contrast, the resetting of the cells in the atria actually occurs while the ventricles are contracting, which masks the signal so it does not appear on the waveform. When the ventricles have reset, the entire cycle repeats and is represented by a new EKG waveform.

Similar to the PR interval, the ST segment is the portion of the waveform from the end of the QRS complex to the beginning of the T wave, and the QT interval is the portion from the beginning of the QRS complex to the end of the T wave.

On the EKG reading, the height of the waves reflects the strength of the electrical signal as well as the overlap of the opposing signal. Since the paper on which the tracing is made (or the electronic display, which in Bun's case, is the sonogram) moves at a fixed speed, the space between the waves shows how long it takes for the signal to pass through the heart.

By looking for differences between the pattern of the heart's electrical signal and a normal signal pattern, a health professional can identify problems with the heart's rhythm or indirect evidence of problems with the heart's pumping action. Several aspects of the EKG, including heart rate, heart rhythm, and abnormalities of the QRS or ST segments can indicate further complications.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And you thought Elephants never forgot

While this post has absolutely nothing to do with Lupus, it's bound to become one of your favorites. I figure I'm entitled to stray from the topic of discussion (the big L) every once in awhile, so consider this my yearly departure. Enjoy!

As seen on The Kim Komando Show - Video of the Day:

In 1969, two friends, John Rendall and Ace Berg, purchased a lion. At the time, Christian the lion was a 35-pound cub. He had been born in a zoo. The friends raised Christian in their London home. All three hung out in a friend’s furniture shop on the weekends.

Within a year, Christian had grown to 185 lbs. Rendall and Berg realized they couldn’t keep him much longer. But they didn’t know what to do with him. A chance encounter changed that. Two actors from the film Born Free walked into the furniture store.

The actors recommended a conservationist, George Adamson, living in Kenya. Christian was soon in Africa. There he was rehabilitated and released into the wild.

In 1974, Rendall and Berg decided to visit Christian one last time. He was now a wild animal. Adamson told them it was doubtful that Christian could be found. No one had seen him in nine months.

The two flew to Kenya, anyway. On the day they landed, Christian appeared outside Adamson’s camp. Somehow, he knew. He waited outside the camp until Rendall and Berg arrived.

This video was taken during their reunion with Christian. What a story! What a video!

Monday, July 7, 2008

One thing's for sure...


As my pregnancy continues, I find that everyone wants to know whether or not I'm planning on getting an epidural once I go into labor. To that, all I can say is, "yes, yes, and yes!" I have every intention of taking full advantage of the medical advances that are available to me. I've seen my fair share of severe, debilitating pain, and know just how effective doctor-administered drugs can be. Why pass up the opportunity to see what kind of helpful concoction the doctors can come up with?

Four years ago, I had the privilege of being in the delivery room with my sister, Katie, when she gave birth to my niece Emma. Although feeling Bun kick inside my tummy is pretty cool, watching Emma emerge perfectly formed was the most amazing experience I've ever witnessed. Katie was a real champ about the whole thing, and while there wasn't too much screaming or gnashing of teeth, I could tell that once she had the epidural, things got a whole lot easier.

I, too, plan on making things as easy as possible; no doubt Bun is saying the same thing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Opinion Overload


While I love my perinatology practice, I'm not used to consulting multiple doctors regarding my health condition (which is, currently, pregnancy!) My rheumatologist, Dr. S., and I pretty much single-handedly solve all of the problems of the world (in addition to those regarding my case of Lupus) without having to consult another physician. If we do, he does the contacting and consulting, and then just reports back to me with the information.

When you're pregnant, it's encouraged that you see all of the doctors in the practice throughout the 40 or so weeks you're with child (or in my case, with Bun). I understand the reasoning, but each time I go, I get a different version of what I should be doing and when. The differing opinions aren't outright conflicting, and I'm not particular alarmed each time I hear something new or different; rather, it's just that from one visit to the next, we never know what the "take" will be on my medication, inducement, delivery, etc.

For instance, it's debatable whether my two-week sonograms will go through 28, 30 or 32 weeks...depending on the doctor you talk to. No big concern - just funny to hear each doctor proclaim a slightly different scenario.

Another example: While it's been agreed upon that at 35 weeks, I'll be stopping Lovenox (the anticoagulant daily shot), it's questionable whether or not I'll start up heparin (another daily shot taken twice a day) through the end of the pregnancy. (Check out one of my recent blog entries for the gory details.)

It doesn't really matter to me, but...wait a minute, what am I saying? Of course it matters! I would love to be free and clear of these crazy needles, and the sooner the better, but I'm willing to do what needs to be done for Bun's sake. Guess we'll just have to see which doctor I happen to get at that 35 week appointment. Hope it's the right one!

Thankfully, each of the four doctors I see have great bedside manner, know what they're talking about, and make me feel like this is the most normal (and greatest) pregnancy in the world. I couldn't ask for anything more (except, I suppose, consensus.)

Enjoy the holiday weekend!